Annika’s Islands Ch. 02

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Chapter 2
“Stranded”

Darian

It was the heat that finally caused me to awake in the spacious yellow lifeboat, mostly dry, half naked, with my hand resting lightly on my sister Annika’s right breast. She had her back pressed snuggly against me, and wore a soft smile on her face. I took a moment to make sure she was breathing easily.

I removed my hand.

While my brain tried desperately to start functioning properly, I simply shook my head. Honestly, the girl never quits. I mentally complained, recalling the various little attempts, hints, and outright seductions she’d made over the past few days. Not to mention that kiss on the plane.

Oh but what a kiss it had been, Dare.

My face twisted into a frown. Shut up, Lust.

Kiss reminded you of that first one, didn’t it?

I imagined anything deeper than animal attraction, Lust. It’s nothing more than that. I tried explaining to myself. While I’m sure most people would find the process almost insane, I found fracturing my mind into separate, dominant emotions, feelings, or ideals helped me work things out.

Lust was a frequent “speaker.” In my mind’s eye I even knew what he looked like, me. Just with long hair that flowed in luxurious blond locks, no shirt, and my favorite pair of silk boxers – the dragon print ones.

Delude yourself all you want, buddy. She’ll wear you down sooner or later.

I refused to let it go any further. Instead, I opened my eyes to focus on the more immediate problem.

Unbidden, the worst parts of the previous night’s events flashed to the forefront of my still foggy brain. The crash, the horror of opening the partition door and finding the entire plane sheared in half.

I remembered diving under the water, desperately trying to swim down fast enough to reach the rapidly sinking passenger section of the plane… and in a single flash of lightning overhead I’d seen the terrified face of a young woman, looking up at me through the window.

Tears welled before I could hope to stop them. Not wanting to wake ‘Nik, I swallowed hard and slipped away from her sleeping form.

The other bag I’d found the night before – it’d actually been obstructing my view of the lifeboat – was sitting in the corner of the boat next to my bag. In the bright early – or possibly late – daylight, it looked rather beaten up and old, and was rather small. I hoped it would have something I could use for ‘Nik… While I’d been able to store my luggage inside, her belongings had been stored below the plane in the cargo section.

I was sure I looked like the offspring of some strange yellow creature as I slipped out from between the sandwiched lifeboats to look around. Cool, sweet air kissed my face and I realized how hot and humid it was inside our makeshift shelter.

We were no longer drifting, as we had all night, and it was no longer raining. Outside was… surprising. The sky was crystal clear and we’d landed on an absolutely white, beautiful beach that stretched out on either side of the boat. Tall trees loomed nearby, and while they were spaced fairly far apart, there was so many of them they blocked almost everything that might have been behind them. The only thing I could see past them was a white-tipped peak, just barely visible over the tallest trees. That was a blessing at the very least, and helped me make sense of all the trees. Deciduous trees required lots of fresh water, and entire civilizations had developed off of mountain springs or run-water.

I pulled both packs out of the shelter, tilting the top a bit to allow some fresh air inside. The packs were both damp, and while my backpack was of very high quality, and water resistant, it had been completely submerged for a while the previous night.

Finding my swim-trunks, I laid out all of my personal effects on top of the relatively clean inverted life-boat that served as the top of our only shelter.

First out was a small pouch of toiletries, and I forced myself to go into “survival-mode,” that is, to think outside the box. I guess we could maybe eat the toothpaste, I shrugged. I had absolutely no doubt the island was empty – We’d been over the ocean too long, our route very direct to our destination, which took us far from populated islands and areas.

I’d six changes of clothes, two of which were suits which didn’t seem all that enticing in the warm, tropical weather. My old leather jacket, which could be used for a number of things. My laptop and phone, which were both destroyed. While they could handle rain fairly well, saltwater had truly ruined the delicate electronics. Not that I could recharge them, of course. Solar power had steadily grown in popularity over the past few years, but was still not installed on most high-powered portable PC’s. I of course had needed the most powerful.

Of the more useful items in my pack, I’d a durable multi-tool with pliers, wire cutter, saw, blades casino oyna both straight and serrated, even a built in flashlight powered by a carbon nano-tube battery. While I wouldn’t be cutting down any trees with the five-inch tool, it would definitely come in handy.

Additionally I had my penlight, a pocket-knife, Zippo lighter (though it was so wet it wouldn’t be lighting anytime soon), cigarette case with a stash of hand-rolled smokes that contained marijuana (which had been legalized two years previous) as well as some rolling papers and small bag of loose weed.

I shook the bag, noticing a few seeds. Hmm… if this turns out to be a long little vacation… I chuckled slightly. Better put that on your ‘to do’ list.

“Thank God for private planes,” I muttered, setting the items in a pile to the side.

Other consumables consisted of some meds – Excedrin, motion sickness pills for ‘Nik, Heartburn pills for me, and a bottle of sleeping pills. Additionally, I had two bottles of Evian, a bunch of pilfered mini-booze bottles, a large bottle of brandy, and a collapsible cup I’d picked up at a gift shop for my buddy Caleb. It had a naked Japanese geisha on it that stripped as it was extended.

A wave of homesickness overcame me when I pulled that cup out. Will I ever be able to give this to you, Cay?

Shaking the feeling off, I pulled the second pack open, and my heart immediately sunk. It was smaller, and from the second I saw inside I realized it would be almost useless. There was a very expensive looking suit folded neatly over the top of a bunch of items; an MP3 player, some souvenirs from Japan. I thought I could maybe use the glass from the frames on the odd bits of artwork the size of a pack of smokes. A pair of glasses were the only useful thing I found in the front pocket – for use as a fire starter if anything.

There was an abbreviated kimono that would probably fit easily on ‘Nik, which made me hope their might be some clothes that would fit her as well. Looking at the suit again, I noticed the buttons were on the wrong side, and the bottom half was a skirt… so it must have been a businesswoman’s bag.

I pulled out a sodden box of tampons, a few of which had been ruined because of the water. There were some barebones toiletries… Collapsible toothbrush, hair brush, some small bottles of shampoo, soap, conditioner. The small pack of makeup had been thoroughly ruined, and a bottle of perfume had broken open, soaking everything and making it stink to high heaven. I was happily surprised to find a bottle of water at the bottom. You just had to love Americans and their distrust of local water supplies. Beside that was a single energy bar.

I flipped over the pack, thinking it empty. I found the very last item – A bathing suit. Two piece, bikini – it was very skimpy, with the tag still on them.

Good lord. What’s the point of even being clothed at all? I thought as I examined the scant red fabric. Sighing and seeing no better option, I left it draped over the side of the boat for ‘Nik to change into when she woke.

Resignedly, I gathered up the rest of the clothes and packs, trudging over to the tree-line to hang them. The humidity inside the makeshift shelter had already given my clothes a slightly mildewed odor, and considering they were the only clothes, I’d every intention of taking care of them. With a stroke of forethought, I remembered to gather the wet clothes we’d hurriedly stripped off the night before including our only shoes.

The beach was truly beautiful, well worn and easy on my bare feet. Even the ground in the forest was loamy and soft, with hardly so much as a branch to poke at me. The trees ranged from very tall, palm like numbers to the shorter, leafy types. It was quite easy to find an available limb to drape each piece of clothing. The sun was still low in the sky, though I’d no way of knowing if it was just after sunrise, or just before sunset. I was betting on the former, it felt like morning, and would mean the clothes would dry quickly.

I was reaching for a shoe when I noticed a large, dark mushroom hiding from the sun behind the nearest tree. It looked remarkably like a shitake – which happened to be my favorite mushroom. ‘Nik and I had devoured a bunch of them our last night in Tokyo.

I reached down to pluck one, and immediately froze. Movement from a nearby bush had caught my eye.

The rest of my body frozen, I very slowly removed my knife from the small pocket in my shorts. I flicked it open, taking a careful step away from the bush, knife at the ready.

A fist-sized scorpion of some sort was fighting with a skinny snake the length of my forearm. I watched, after a quick double-check of my feet. Didn’t want any of their family members to nip at me. Anaphylactic shock was a bitch, or so I had read.

The scorpion stung the reptile with lightning quickness. Oddly enough, the small snake slot oyna bit itself on the wound. It then just as quickly bit the scorpion, absorbing a couple more stings. It bit itself on those wounds as well.

What the hell? I wondered why the hell it kept biting itself.

A few moments later, the snake curled around the stinger of the giant insect, snapping it off, and slowly began to consume the creature. I just shook my head. As long as that snake keeps eating those damn things and leaves us alone, we’ve got no problems. I shuddered, I hate scorpions.

I collected my – for lack of a better word – Shitake mushroom. Figuring their might be more nearby, I snapped off a relatively straight branch from one of the leafy trees and used it to poke and prod any suspect bits of foliage that might contain a mushroom – or scorpion.

I didn’t find another saucer-shaped mushroom like the shitake, but I did find two others, which I dubbed on the spot whitecap and brownie. The whitecap looked like your typical mushroom, while the brown was slightly lopsided and just odd looking. If even one of the three were edible, I knew we’d be able to survive long enough to procure some other source of food.

Assuming we’d find freshwater somewhere near the mountain area, of course.

“DARIAN!” The rather panicked sounding scream interrupted my thoughts.

Annika

“Mmmff…” I mumbled. I think it meant, “Why am I so hot and sticky?” I pulled at my shirt, in a vain attempt to cool off.

Wait, where’s my shirt? I peeked down, unwilling to open my eyes fully, and a wave of consternation overcame me. I honestly couldn’t figure out why I was in my underwear, surrounded by some kind of big yellow bubble.

“Dare?” What came out was hardly a squeak.

I noticed a bottle of Evian sitting upright, nestled in one of the flotation devices. Next to that was a rather… skimpy bathing suit and a small bottle of what was probably sunscreen, though it was labeled in Japanese.

Well at least he’s alive I consoled myself, and grabbed the water, taking a few greedy gulps.

Belatedly I realized the waves weren’t rocking the raft anymore. And that I could hear birds.

I quickly slipped off my damp bra and panties, trading them for the equally damp swimsuit. The top was a couple sizes too small, squishing my breast uncomfortably. It was only when I was loosening it that I wondered where he’d found it; and where my blouse and jeans were.

My voice was clearer now that it was properly lubricated, “Darian?” I poked my head out of the raft, which was letting in a seemingly frigid breeze. The beach was dazzling, white, and perfect; if a bit disorienting. I was glad to have solid ground beneath me when I stepped out, though, and I circled the raft twice, looking out in every direction.

The white sand was fine enough not to leave any distinguishing footprints. I circled the boat once more, my sense of ease fading away quickly. Where is he? Worriedly, I yelled out again, “DARIAN!”

“Yo!” His head popped up from behind a large, leafy bush. “Right here, ‘Nik.” I was never so relieved to hear my nickname. He always said it in a cute way, “Neek” as opposed to “Nick.” The first time I heard it I’d thought it had been adorable.

I heaved a sigh, “Damn it, Dare. You scared the shit out of me!”

He jogged over the short distance to me. I couldn’t help but notice the sleek muscles glistening with wetness in the sun. Naturally it immediately made me feel self-conscious. He was all lean muscles and perfect lines, while I found myself to be too soft and curvy. He knew I’d joined a gym about a year ago, what he didn’t know was I’d joined because I always felt like one of the reasons he’d rejected me was because I wasn’t athletic enough. I knew that wasn’t the real reason, of course. It just didn’t stop me from trying to trim down my curves a little.

“What were you…” I noticed the clothes draped from various branches behind him, including a couple articles of clothing that definitely didn’t come from his bag. “Oh.”

He grinned in that cute way of his, “Yeah, sorry; was hanging up the clothes when I ran across these mushrooms.” He blinked for a moment, “And watch out for snakes and scorpions.”

Shit. “Snakes and scorpions?” I gulped. Call it girly or whatever, but anything creepy-crawly freaked me out.

He shrugged, “Doubt they’ll be on the beach. We’ll just have to stay cautious… and out of the woods for a while. I figured we ought to see if we can find anything while the tide is low anyway.” He gestured, as if such a thing was obvious.

My mind tried to take it all in, “Like what?”

He flipped the mushrooms into the raft and grabbed the attached mooring rope, dragging it closer to the treeline. “You’d be surprised what washes up on shore. We did.”

Couldn’t argue that point, but I was still struggling with the whole, “Cast away” thing. canlı casino siteleri My brother seemed remarkably calm though, all business as he pulled and tied the raft to a sturdy palm tree; his well defined, hairless chest tensing and flexing. I didn’t realize how much more… muscular he was. I’d seen him swim a couple times during the trip, and shirtless a few other times. He must have worked out a whole bunch this past year.

Focus, girl. Focus! I mentally chided myself. Though despite the situation, not even snakes really scared me. There was something very primal about having a big, strong man watching out for you… not that I’d ever admit it to anybody.

He caught me staring, and I quickly turned towards the raft. “We’ll both burn to a crisp in this sun.”

“I blame Dad for that,” He laughed, “We should be ok since we both built up a base tan on vacation.” He fetched the Japanese sunblock, squeezing some into his hand then handing it to me.

I tried very hard not to watch him rub the cream into his arms… hard chest… flat, six-pack abs… strong powerful thighs. I tried very hard not to watch, though I failed.

Shit. I started slathering the stuff on, fussing with my rather yucky hair. I was debating whether I should take a quick dip in the very clear, blue ocean.

“Here, let me,” he sighed after watching me struggle. He wiped his hands on his shorts and gathered up my hair into a ponytail.

“No, wait, hey,” I protested as he pulled sweat-slicked strands from my neck and forehead. The cool air had dried my face quickly, and I was feeling gross and sticky.

“Hush,” He told me simply, doing something to my hair. When he let go my hair stayed in its tail.

“Thanks,” I mumbled, feeling foolish for some reason.

He was putting more sunscreen into his hands, rubbing it briefly and business-like into my shoulders and back. “Don’t worry, Sis. We’ll get through this just fine.” When he was done, he slipped his arms around me from behind, resting his chin against my temple. “There are people who pay to live like this for a few weeks, and I’m sure we’ll be rescued by then. The rafts have GPS trackers, and I’m sure hundreds of people already know our plane went down. Hell, the other two planes have landed by now.”

I nodded, “I didn’t know about the GPS. I thought it’d be like that one movie with, uhm, Forrest Gump.”

He chuckled and turned me around, soothing rubbing my arms, “Tom Hanks, Cast Away. That guy was stuck back when people were using pagers instead of cellphones. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were picked up today or tomorrow to be honest. Even if the GPS in both rafts are busted, as well as the one on the plane, and in every other piece of technology that was on that plane, they could still find us in a week or two. We’re just going to assume it will be twice that long and plan accordingly – Just in case.”

He turned around so I could put some sunblock on his well-toned back. I tried very hard to be… casual about it, but my fingertips lingered as I spread the white cream over his muscles. He didn’t seem to notice and just went on, “Water is important, but we got a big-ass mountain or inactive volcano here. White peak means freshwater, and typically there’s a freshwater spring or at least a place where run water collects towards the bottom. With this many green trees, I’m assuming either we’ll be getting enough rain so this won’t be a problem, or we’ll run across a source of water easily enough.” He flinched as my fingers trailed down his spine casually, and stepped away. “We’ll have to carefully test these mushrooms as well. I’ve read that there are more poisonous varieties than not.”

“How can we test them?” It’s not like we have access to a lab.

Casually he answered, “I’ll try a very small, cooked portion of one at a time, and double the portion every day until we deem it safe.”

“Yeah we’re not doing that,” I informed him matter-of-factly. “We’ll both try a piece. If we try two different types, we can cut the testing time by half.”

I held his gaze steadily for a handful of seconds, and was shocked when he just nodded, “Fine. First we’ll take a walk along the beach, though. Maybe we’ll find some shellfish or something. I really, don’t feel like trying to catch a snake for dinner.

I stared blankly at his back as he began walking away. Eat snake?

* * *

“Hey! I found something!” I yelled out for the third time in what had to be the past 20 minutes. There was a lot of stuff on the beach; old rusted cans, garbage bags, empty shells, driftwood, bits of glossy paper, and other random bits of garbage.

This object was shiny, though! I could barely contain my excitement. The only thing I’d eaten was some sushi and rice balls, and that had been at least twenty-four hours previous. I’d skipped dinner on the plane, mostly due to my pouting over Darian.

My brother insisted I not collect any found item without him over an hour before when I had a rather close call with a crab, which had unfortunately scampered off into the water. Very unfortunate, actually, as I loved crab, and was rather hungry.

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